The leader of Macedonia’s main ruling party is trying to raise anti-Bulgarian sentiment to win the forthcoming elections in the country, a Bulgarian MEP opines.
Andrey Kovatchev (EPP/GERB)’s comment comes amid a row between the two counties over a memorial plaque which a Macedonian journalist claims to have destroyed.
Nikola Gruevski, who leads the main ruling VMRO-DPMNE party and who until January was Prime Minister, tries to use the anti-Bulgarian acts that have become more frequent in light of the elections in December to boost his popularity, the MEP has argued.
“We are witnessing a tendency that Nikola Gruevski is using the provocations against Bulgaria to portray himself as the only defender of Macedonian identity. Gruevski is using these provocations to gain more percentage [support] in the elections,” Kovatchev has told Focus Radio.
“Unfortunately, this is neither European nor helpful to Macedonian citizens for the faster acceptance of their country into the EU and NATO,” he has noted.
Last week, Macedonia declared “illegal” a memorial plaque which was put up on Kaimakchalan peak – the scene of a deadly battle involving Bulgarian and Serbian troops – but was allegedly destroyed by a Macedonian journalist. Earlier, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said he had been assured by his Macedonian counterpart Emil Dimitriev the country would respond to the purported desecration of the plaque.
Kaimakchalan serves as a natural border between Macedonia and Greece.
Bulgaria’s southwestern neighbor is due to hold a postponed early vote in December.
While asserting that Bulgaria will keep its hand extended to Macedonian citizens, the country will stick to its position that Macedonia cannot join the EU using “policies based on the distortion of history and discrimination against people who state their Bulgarian identity.”